As the one-year anniversary of my 13-year-old son Brandon Sorensen’s death approaches, there are many questions still left unanswered and some rumors I’d like to clarify. Since the tragic day of May 16, 2011, I struggle every day with what happened and how the case was handled.
On Monday, May 16, at approximately 3:55 p.m., as I was driving down Santa Clara Avenue in Alameda I could clearly see something had happened but I wasn’t sure what. That something happened to be my son, who had just been hit and run over by an SUV.
As I approached the intersection of Everett and Santa Clara I clearly saw a bicycle in the cross walk. To my shock, it was the bicycle of my son Brandon Sorensen. As I drove closer I looked over and saw my son lying in the street. I immediately pulled over and ran to be by his side.
As I ran over to Brandon, there was a lady administering CPR. At the time I did not realize she was the driver who had hit my son. Imagine a mother, finding her son lying in the street almost unresponsive — I was in complete shock but had to be as close to him as possible so he could hear my voice. Actually, I was told by a female off-duty Alameda Police officer to go to him and let him know I was there.
However, moments after I got to my son’s side, I was abruptly and rudely pulled away by the neckline of my clothing and was told by an officer to step to the curb. I was made to feel like I was disregarded and almost treated like I was a criminal.
At this time, only the person who hit my son and the one police officer who pulled me away, as well as one officer directing traffic, were on the scene, besides the many bystanders.
Why was the person who hit my son allowed to be by his side and not his own mother? Not once was I offered any comfort or assistance by the officers on the scene. Upon the arrival of the paramedics, not once was I approached or asked if I wanted to ride in the ambulance to the hospital. It’s as if I didn’t exist. In fact, the police report never mentions me as being present on the scene.
In my opinion, there are many things about the police report that are not valid and need further explanation. Here are some of the facts that are disturbing:
Fact #1: The driver of the SUV, a former Alameda County EMT, admitted she turned around to ask a question to a passenger in the back seat. While her head was turned around, she felt a bump, saw the hood of a sweatshirt in front of her and did not brake, and continued driving. Obviously she was at fault and my son, who was in the crosswalk, never had a chance. Several witnesses driving behind her car stated they clearly saw Brandon in the crosswalk. In my son’s case, he was clearly seen by other vehicles behind her. However, the driver was never cited or held accountable in any manner for the fact she hit and ran over and killed my son. In my heart and in my mind it makes me question that since she was a former Alameda paramedic, was this handled differently than other accidents or fatalities? It makes me feel like the police are protecting and covering for one of their own.
Fact #2: The police and City of Alameda further deprived me of my son’s personal belongings such as his cell phone, clothing, shoes, bicycle and everything that was on him that day, was put into evidence for four to five months and not returned to me after several calls to the Alameda police to find out why it was taking so long. However, the driver’s SUV was returned within days from the date of the accident. The police and City of Alameda refused to provide us with the name of the driver or any identifying information regarding the vehicle despite repeated requests, why? It made us feel as though they were protecting the driver.
It’s been almost one year since I lost my son in this senseless accident. I need answers and some closure because it is extremely unsettling to our family that the police report stated that Brandon was found 100 percent at fault. How could this be?
Lately there have been so many fatal and non-fatal pedestrian or bicyclist accidents and many of the drivers at fault have been cited or put in jail. My son is not here to defend himself so I need to speak out on my son’s behalf and make it known that I feel the police did not handle this incident in a professional, ethical or appropriate manner. And how is it that the driver who killed my son was not held accountable in any manner for his death?
How can the police report find Brandon 100 percent at fault despite admissions by the driver that she was not paying attention and her head was turned around?
I often wonder if this was a child of a police officer or anyone in the line of duty, or if the driver was not in the line of work she was in, if the driver would have been found at fault and the case handled differently. As Brandon’s mother I must stand up for him and defend him since he is no longer here to tell his side of the story.
My goal in writing this letter is to have justice for my son and some closure for our family. I am not trying to bring charges a year later against the driver, who I am sure is remorseful, but it is to question the integrity of the Alameda Police Department.